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RE: First draft of the Emacs website

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: First draft of the Emacs website
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 2015 13:51:32 -0800 (PST)

> I think Drew meant something along the lines "a stable, dynamically
> typed language with a bunch of built-in datatypes, a rich library, an
> (optional) object system and integrated tools like a bytecode compiler,
> interactive debugger, a docstring conformance checker etc."

Sort of.  Yes, concentrate on the _features_ that Lisp has to
offer, not on the name.  (We might not agree on which features
are most important, but that's what discussion is for.)

And point out _how_ these features are important to Emacs -
(1) as a text editor and (2) as everything else that Emacs is,
from a multi-language programming environment to a calendar,
email client, personal organizer, whatever.

The point is not to describe Lisp features.  It is to
describe Lisp features that particularly benefit Emacs,
and to point out how so.  "Why mention Lisp?" is really
the same question here as "Why is Lisp helpful to Emacs?"

Without giving an idea of _how_ Lisp features help, a
feature list is not so useful.  A different supporting
language could still let you define your own commands,
and bind keys, and customize faces or whatever.  But the
high-level, functional nature of Lisp lets you do those
things more easily than some languages might.

We don't want to set Lisp up against other languages.
We do want to get across what it offers that benefits
an editor and environment such as Emacs.

And we can mention _Emacs_ "oddities" that (IMHO)
contribute to Lisp's usefulness for Emacs, including:

. Abundant hooks, which you can use to can tie in your
  own code at expected places, to extend behavior.

. An advice system that more generally lets you reuse
  code, adapting it to your needs.

. Dynamic binding (in addition to lexical), which lets
  you reuse and adapt code just by dynamically binding
  variables to different values.

IOW, from the outset, Emacs intends for you to modify its
behavior.  This is perhaps the main thing that sets Emacs
apart.  And it takes this very seriously.  On purpose,
almost nothing in Emacs behavior is carved in stone.

Lisp is in large part what gives Emacs its power and makes
it more than a mere text editor, even one that is highly
customizable.  Features of the language are behind this:
code as data, flexible ability to define macros, recursive
functions (including higher-order), and whatever else we
decide is important to point out.

We haven't necessarily thought much about _how Lisp
contributes_ to what makes Emacs Emacs, but it might be
good to do so now.  Even a noisy argument about what is
important, and why, could be useful in deciding what to
tell people about what makes Emacs special.

Personally, I would _not_ insist upon the stability of the
language, the presence of an object system, the extensive
integrated tools, or even the rich library.  Aside from the
object system, those are expected of a mature language and
are not particular to Lisp.  (Maybe mention the object system
but, so far, it is not used much, AFAIK, especially by users.) 

We need not focus on the name "Lisp"; it is the features
that count.  But neither should we shy away from mentioning
"Lisp", IMO.

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